Chief Happiness Officer? – Are you sure?

Chief Happiness Officer? – Are you sure?

Another chirpy blog from Martin Ellis

Today is my birthday. I should be happy.

I’m not.

I’ve been working on a senior HR role. It’s been going well. I’ve spoken to some lovely, normal people and set up some client interviews.

But this isn’t about individuals. It’s about the HR community as a whole. I’m not convinced they know their role – or perhaps it’s that “management” isn’t clear what they expect of them……

During my research and early conversations, I’ve been wandering the corridors of HR and come across more strange and varied job titles than for any search in eleven years, most of which seem to include words like “Advisor”, “Coordinator”, “Consultant”, “Partner” and “Associate”, all of which smack of a lack of direct responsibility. I’ve also come across:

  • Staff Relation Representative – which sounds like a union rep to me
  • Manager, Talent & Culture – surely the culture is the senior manager?
  • Head of People – that sounds like a leadership role for the CEO
  • Human Capital Manager – not heard anything less ‘human’ for a long time
  • Employee Ambassador – again, HR representing the staff to the company?
  • Chief Employee Experience Officer – I promise you that’s a real job title! Eh?
  • Solutions Czar – not a clue what that means

I’ll stop there. The list could go on a LOT longer. You get my drift. I hope…

…. but if you don’t, here’s the clincher


I’ll just leave that with you for a moment and let it sink in……

There’s little doubt this title will be known to some of you as there are 836 such souls registered on LinkedIn – there are another 6 Cheif Happiness Officers who can’t spell their job title correctly – I would love to have been in on the meetings when a few adults looked at each other and agreed, at one time, in one place, that calling the HR Director (or whatever) a Chief Happiness Officer is a good idea.

In case they’re in any doubt, it’s a shit idea.

  • Happiness is an abstract concept. Laughter isn’t, but happiness is.
  • Happiness isn’t an objective, it’s what you get when you do something that makes you happy. Usually an achievement.
  • You will not make a business great just by being happy or nice. If that were the case Mister Tickle would be working at Uber as their HR Director and earning shed loads.

Do not even think of joining an outfit with a CHO (I promise you, some of them are so up themselves that they prefer an acronym and use it).

This is why:

They want people to be happy. Trouble is, they can’t measure it objectively, so they run surveys. Regularly. And announce Happiness Scores. This will be on top of all the KPI’s they already use, probably pretty badly, which already making people unhappy. So there will be more returns to send back to the CMO so he or she can keep track.

They have a happiness score of 73 (not sure why, but it’s always 73), but not have a clue if that’s good or bad because they don’t have a benchmark. The CMO will claim it’s “great, but we can do better“, and crank things up to justify their existence. The CMO is happy as a pig in shit. Everybody else is just thinking they were happier before they had to be happy on Company Orders!

See where I’m going with this?

Ask if your new potential employer has a CMO – If you bump into them in a corridor, don’t smirk, it’s not nice to be rude – but I appreciate this may be difficult to sustain through an entire interview – especially if they’re miserable or she’s wearing Homer Simpson socks.

But don’t accept any offers of employment. It will make you miserable.

Meanwhile, can management and HR sort please? Who owns what and does what is important. The acid test is to tell random employees they have a meeting with HR in an hour.

If they roll their eyes, you’re doing it wrong.

Martin is the Headhunter with the RSE Group. Forgive him. His birthday has made him grumpy. He wants to be 7 again.



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